Monday, August 14, 2017

Peach Freezer Jam

Peach Freezer Jam
The local peach crop is in this year!  That was just great news for me & my annual preparation of Peach Freezer Jam!  There are 9 containers of this yummy jam sitting on our dining room table as I am typing this.  One batch yields 9 one cup containers + a small custard cup filled with the remainder (covered with foil).

On Friday the local peaches were purchased.  The needed amount for preparing the jam was placed in paper lunch bags to ripen.  They sat (closed) on the counter for 2 days.  Yesterday, the ripened peaches went into the fridge.  Today is Peach Freezer Jam Day for me!

The process is always the same.  I use Certo liquid pectin.  The directions are found in each box of Certo.  I always read over my own Helpful Hints, too!  I make only one batch.  However, if you will be preparing 2 batches, make each batch separately.




To start, rinse the fruit under cold running water.  Use clean utensils. 

After the jam is prepared & placed in the 1 cup freezer containers & covered/ labelled, it sits undisturbed for 24 hours.  Tomorrow afternoon at 3 PM I'll be placing the Peach Freezer Jam in our large freezer!  That little custard cup?  Oh, that will be placed in our fridge to enjoy for the next couple of weeks.  :)

Freezer Jams are just the best!

We will enjoy them again this year!
Yummy!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Colors in July

Salmon Daylilies
with Marigolds
For the past 2+ weeks our Salmon Daylilies have blossomed!  Suddenly, each morning there were 36+ blossoms to enjoy.  Every vibrant color of summer flowers are always a welcomed sight!  Some are perennials & a few others are annuals.  The Irises already blossomed, but the graceful green foliage add another shade of green to our lawn.   

Another View


A closer look-

Front Perennial Garden
with Marigolds

The saved Zinnia seeds were planted this spring.  Now, they are beginning to blossom.

Zinnias & Marigolds

Each week the view is a bit different, but always colorful & filled with flowers! 

Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

~Blueberry Freezer Jam~

Blueberry Freezer Jam
July & Blueberries go hand in hand!  It's the month when I purchase the locally grown berries from Calabrese Farms in Southwick, MA & prep them for our freezer.  3 quarts are always saved to make Blueberry Freezer Jam the next day.  It's a tradition with me.  In my mom's kitchen we made the cooked jams, but years later I learned about the easy to prepare freezer jams.  That's my "go to" method!

Certo (liquid pectin), sugar & lemon juice are the other ingredients I use.  The complete directions are found in each box of Certo.  My 1 cup Ziploc freezer containers are located & my kitchen becomes a jam kitchen.  

A certain amount of blueberries are crushed & added to sugar.  They are stirred & the process begins.  It's always handy to have all the ingredients, utensils & containers/ lids ready to use.  Time just flies by after you set the timer. 

On Monday evening 3 batches of Blueberry Freezer Jam were sitting on our dining room table for the 24 hour time period.     

***Always prepare only 1 batch at a time. 

24 hours after the lids are placed on the top (& labelled/ dated) the jams are frozen.

My additional hints for freezer jams.

Do you prepare Freezer Jams?   So delicious!

We'll enjoy it all year!
Yummy!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Tomato & Grilled Zucchini Salad

Tomato & Grilled Zucchini Salad

When preparing dinner I usually take out my iPad, place it on my kitchen counter & cook- using recipes on my blog or others I've saved.  There are countless yummy foods that I've posted that we like.  The ingredients are usually on hand, too.          

Now, it's the time of year to BBQ!  Zucchini is a veggie that we like sauteed, but during the warmer months it finds a place on our grill whenever we're grilling dinner.  Oregano, Basil & Garlic Powder added to the Baking & Sauteing Olive Oil give that veggie great flavoring!  Usually 3 or 4 Zucchini are prepared.  They are so good! 

One of the Grilled Zucchini are not eaten at dinner.  It's saved for Tomato & Grilled Zucchini Salad the next day!  This cold salad is just yummy with a little Balsamic Vinaigrette drizzled on top!

Tomato & Grilled Zucchini Salad

Ingredients:
1- 2 Grilled Zucchini, cold (Directions for grilling) 
1 Large Tomato- cut into chunks
Feta Cheese
Balsamic Vinaigrette

Directions: 
  1. Cut Grilled Zucchini into slices.
  2. Cut Tomato into chunks.
  3. Place into serving dishes.
  4. Sprinkle on Feta Cheese.
  5. Drizzle Balsamic Vinaigrette on top.
It's a delicious cold salad!

Enjoy!
Yummy!
        

Monday, July 3, 2017

"Statue of Liberty"

"Statue of Liberty"
by
Norman Rockwell
(Courtesy of Norman Rockwell Museum)




Last year I learned of a beautiful oil painting by Norman Rockwell when I attended a lecture given by Tom Daly from the Norman Rockwell Museum (in Stockbridge, MA.)  "The Statue of Liberty" is a different view of our beloved Lady Liberty. 

On July 6, 1946 this was the cover of The Saturday Evening Post.  The men of different backgrounds are all working together to repair her torch.     

The oil painting was once owned by the film director Steven Spielberg.  In 1994 he donated it to the official White House Collection.  One day last year while watching the national news on t.v., I saw this beautiful work on display in President Barack Obama's Oval Office.

What a beautiful painting!

Have a Safe &
Happy Fourth of July!!!  

Enjoy!



Tuesday, June 27, 2017

FREE FUN FRIDAYS- 2017

FREE FUN FRIDAYS
Image courtesy of
Highland Street Foundation

Summer is here!  It's the time of year when vacations & staycations will be/ are happening!  It's time for FREE FUN FRIDAYS!!!  Friday is the day of the week when families, neighbors & friends can visit specific very cool venues in my home state of Massachusetts- without paying a General Admission fee!  This takes place through the generosity of the Highland Street Foundation.

This summer the program began last Friday, June 23rd & will continue until Friday August 25.  Every week on Friday there are 8 or 9 specific museums/ cultural events open to anyone living in, visiting, or traveling through Massachusetts.  The places to visit are located throughout the state!  If this sounds interesting to you, check out the list!

List of dates & cool places to visit with Free General Admission!

This Friday, June 30, the Springfield Museums in Springfield, MA is on the list.  There are 5 individual museums on their grounds.  Yes, this is the location of the newly opened The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss!  

The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
in Boston, MA is another wonderful place to visit this summer!  View & appreciate countless beautiful pieces of art. 


Another great destination that's located in Boston, MA is the Franklin Park Zoo.  There is so much to explore while walking outdoors!  

Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, MA is another favorite.  Step back into the early 19th century & learn how daily tasks were completed.  There are water powered mills & a working farm in this rural village.

Old Sturbridge Village

Younger children & their families will also enjoy The Eric Carle Museum in Amherst, MA.  It's located in an old apple orchard.


These are only a few of the great venues to visit this summer with Free General Admission!  FREE FUN FRIDAYS are a great opportunity to learn something new while having FuN! 

Thank you Highland Street Foundation!!!
We will enjoy!

        

Saturday, June 24, 2017

~Strawberry Freezer Jam~

Strawberry Freezer Jam
Part II of my Strawberry Season is making Strawberry Freezer Jam

Back in the day I would stand over my stove, stirring the pot of crushed fruit & sugar- feeling quite warm on a summer day.  Then, one day I looked at the recipe for Strawberry Freezer Jam that was included in the Certo box's directions.  Certo is the liquid pectin that I always stirred (still do) into the fruit/ sugar mixture while making the cooked (now Freezer) jam. 

The 24 hour let it set, then freeze method looked really good, so I made a batch.  From that day on I always have made Freezer Jam! 

Hints to remember while making Freezer Jams:
  • Read the directions first & follow exactly!  
  • If you are making more than one batch, make only one batch at a time.
  • Use clean bowls & utensils.
  • Click here for more hints. 



We were missing the taste of this homemade jam.  There were no more containers of any flavor in our large freezer.  Somehow, the commercial jams, preserves, jellies just do not taste as good.

Woohoo!  It's strawberry season & my 3 batches are doing their thing on our dining room table!  Tomorrow they will be placed in our freezer!

We will Enjoy!
Yummy!
    

Friday, June 23, 2017

Fresh Local Strawberries

Local Fresh Strawberries
Today was the day!!!  Every year about the middle of June the local strawberries are ripe & ready for us to enjoy.  When visiting roadside stands or Farmer's Markets, quarts of these sweet yummy red berries are available to purchase.   It's been a tradition with me to purchase strawberries to prep for our large freezer & also to make Freezer Jam.  Oh, years ago the tradition was to go to the strawberry patch & pick the berries I needed.  Traditions change!  :)

This morning quarts of strawberries from Meadowbrook Farm in East Longmeadow, MA found their way to my kitchen.  After cutting off the tops, the strawberries were double rinsed in cold water & drained.  Then, 2 and 1/2 cups of this fruit were placed in Ziploc Freezer Bags.  Some of the larger strawberries were sliced first.  I add about 1 Tablespoon of sugar to each bag before closing.  It works well to move the sugar crystals around in the bag, so it dissolves.  Label & date each bag. 

In the winter months a defrosted bag of this yummy fruit is such a treat to top a Belgian Waffle, Yummy Oatmeal Pancakes or ice cream.

Ready for the Freezer!
Strawberries are always a 2 day project with me.  Tomorrow, I'll be making Strawberry Freezer Jam.

Do you enjoy making jams when the local fruit is available in your area?

Enjoy!
Yummy!
   
  

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Some Colors of May

Bright Pink Peonies!
Here are some of the beautiful colors of May!  We have been enjoying our flowering bushes this spring.  Now, the perennials are also bursting into color.

Lavender Chives!

These Chives always add a beautiful shade of lavender to our garden.

Bleeding Hearts
Years ago 4 small Bleeding Hearts were planted in our back garden.  Now, they've multiplied & found their spot around a large boulder.

Champagne Rhododendron
The white blossoms on the Champagne Rhododendron are dainty.

We are Enjoying Spring!
 

Monday, May 29, 2017

~Memorial Day~


Today
we remember & honor
the Men & Women 
who made the ultimate sacrifice 
for us!

Thank You!!! 




Sunday, May 28, 2017

*Blueberry Torte*

Blueberry Torte
(File Photo)
A Blueberry Torte is baking in my oven!  This dessert rates up there as one of our faves.  It's a treat that can be baked any time of the year.  When you have fresh blueberries or if you've defrosted blueberries.  For me- during the year it's when I've defrosted a bag that's in our large freezer.

It's an easy dessert!  Prepare the batter.  If the batter is too dry, I add 1- 2 Tablespoons more (Soy) Milk & continue mixing.  Place batter in a spring form pan.  Then add the fresh/ defrosted & drained blueberries & press lightly into batter.  Sprinkle on the cinnamon/ sugar mixture & bake.       

Before baking
(File Photo)




Before you know it this delicious dessert will be ready to serve!

Yum!
(File Photo)
  
 Click here for the Blueberry Torte Recipe.  It's so good with or without a small scoop of vanilla ice cream!  We do have vanilla ice cream!  :)

Enjoy!
Yummy!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Yummy Yogurt

Yummy Yogurt
Today was "time to make the yogurt"!  That seems to be every 10 days, give or take.  It's a habit I've had for... well... decades.  Today, the 2 Donvier Yogurt Makers were sitting on my kitchen counter making the next batch.  These electric yogurt makers did the work for 7 hours & 30 minutes.  Then, the individual 6 oz. containers were placed in the fridge.

Yogurt is very easy to prep!  I like the individual 6 oz. container yogurt makers.  Years ago I purchased two.  2 batches were just as easy as making a single batch. 

The process is easy!  The needed milk is boiled & then placed in a large bowl to cool to a required temperature.  My "temperature spoon" comes in handy here.  It came with the Donvier Yogurt Maker.  Then, a culture is added to the cooled milk & stirred.  Place milk in containers, snap on the lid & set the timer.



Complete directions here.
  
Yogurt is always enjoyed at lunch time here.  I like to add a little Freezer Jam & Crunchy Oats to this very tasty source of calcium!

Enjoy!
Yummy!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Crunchy Oats

Crunchy Oats
This was the week!  I've been planning on making a batch of Crunchy Oats for about a month, now.  Those tasty little additions of oats & wheat germ that pack a lot of flavor & fiber to my daily yogurt.  I like to sprinkle about 2 teaspoons on top of my plain yogurt & then add a little Freezer Jam.  Sometimes, you see this treat sold along with single serving yogurt containers.  It's easy to add them in & enjoy the yogurt.  It's even better when you make a batch to eat whenever you want.
  
This is an "easy to prep" kind of treat!  Place all the ingredients in a bowl & combine thoroughly.  Then, in a large skillet over Medium heat, cook & also *stir constantly Cook for 5- 6 Minutes.  Place on a large pan to cool.  It's that easy!  Crunchy Oats are stored in the fridge.  It's great to have a batch to enjoy!  They taste so good on top of cold cereal, too!

*Mixture will burn if it is not constantly stirred! 

Crunchy Oats
             adapted from The Quaker Oats Wholegrain Cookbook


Ingredients:
1 & 1/4 Cups Quaker Oats (Old Fashioned)
1/3 Cup Wheat Germ
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/3 Cup Olive Oil for baking & sauteing 
1/3 Cup Honey

Method:
  1. Combine Oats & Wheat Germ in a bowl. 
  2. Add Cinnamon & Nutmeg, combine.
  3. Add Olive Oil & combine well.
  4. Then add Honey, again combine well.  Mixture is very sticky.
  5. Place mixture in large skillet.
  6. Over Medium Heat cook while constantly stirring.
  7. Cook for 5- 6 Minutes.
  8. Then place Crunchy Oats on cookie pan to cool.
  9. After cooling, place in air tight container & store in fridge. 
After placing in the air tight container, I shake the container to break up any large clumps.  They store well for 3 months in the fridge.  My container will be empty before 3 months passes.  :)  This is a great tasty add in!

Enjoy!
Yummy!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Spring!

View from our front window!
Our warm Spring weather has brought so much color to my town!  One cannot help but daydream while enjoying all of the flowering trees & bushes.

The Forsythia bushes are now part bright yellow flowers & part green leaves.  Flowering Crabapple trees add a beautiful pink color to our neighborhood.  While taking the daily walk the white Crabapple trees add to the beauty, too!


Ah, Spring in New England!
We are enjoying it!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

~Color Update~

Bright Yellow Forsythia Blossoms
What a beautiful time of year!  Whenever I glance out our kitchen window the bright yellow Forsythia blossoms get my attention!  Three bushes are in our back perennial garden.  It's so easy to admire these beautiful bushes all over my neighborhood, because many of us have them in our yards.  Last year, the Forsythia did not blossom, due to our warm, then freezing temps early in the year.  They sure were missed!  However, this year they are a welcoming Spring sight!

The "AmaZing surprises" that made their appearances in March have also brought color to our emerging garden!  A bright yellow Daffodil stands tall.  :)  

Sole Surviving Daffodil
Pink & yellow Hyacinth flowers are opening on the stalks!  It's a ritual that I enjoy seeing every year!  

Hyacinth Blossoms Opening
Before I know it, it will be time to plant the saved Zinnia & Marigold seeds!

What a great time of year!
Spring in New England!
Enjoy!
   

Thursday, April 6, 2017

~Flatbread Pizza~

BBQ Pork Tenderloin Flatbreads
with Roasted Asparagus
Spring!  Asparagus! Flatbread Pizza!  Oh yes!  What a great combination!

A couple of months ago my DH & I were looking at the menu in a New Jersey hotel dining room- famished.  I wanted to order something I'd never tasted.  That's something I always enjoy doing.  When I return home I like to prepare a new dish that's so tasty.  There on the menu was "Flatbread Pizza".  The description of the ingredients sounded so appetizing & I was so hungry!  Oh, it was so good!     

Three weeks ago, a grocery store in my area started carrying packaged flatbread for pizza.  O.K., that got my attention!  Now, I've prepared Flatbread Pizza twice in the past 3 weeks.  Forget Friday night pizza!

These are great!  They are so easy to prepare!  The Directions are on the package.  With the Flatbreads I use, they are placed on a baking sheet & baked for 2 minutes.  Add toppings & then return to the oven & bake again for 4- 5 Minutes. 

It's Asparagus time, so roasting Asparagus that's coated with Olive Oil for baking & sauteing & also Parmesan cheese is a great veggie when making these.  We like White Pizza, so a coating of Ricotta Cheese is a great base.    

With the first Flatbreads, BBQed Pork Tenderloin chunks, Roasted Asparagus & fresh Spinach were placed on a coating of Ricotta Cheese.  Top with shredded Mozzarella/ Cheddar! 

We enjoyed the taste of  Veggie Dream Flatbreads the second time.  Roasted Asparagus & Roasted Summer Squash along with fresh Spinach were placed on the Ricotta.

Veggie Dream Flatbread

Useful Hints
:

  • Before adding toppings, I spread a little Olive Oil for baking & sauteing on each baked Flatbread.  Then, add & spread Ricotta Cheese on top. 
  • For both varieties make a drizzle of 1 teaspoon Water with 4 teaspoons of BBQ SauceCombine & then drizzle over the top of each Flatbread just before sprinkling on the shredded Cheddar/ Mozzarella Cheese.  Bake.  This gives it a great tang!
Does your family enjoy these, too?

Enjoy!
Yummy!